Rocks around the blocks

Stone markers display accuracy of Warren planners

Photo provided to the Times Observer A copy of the original 1795 survey of Warren, completed by William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott.

There are certainly practical – and potentially legal – arguments in favor of preserving survey monuments that are present throughout the City of Warren.

But part of that argument is historical.

And given the age of the monuments in the city, they certainly stand as historical artifacts on their own merit.

The City of Warren was initially laid out – or surveyed – by William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott in 1795.

“The stone monuments would have been set at the corners of each block according to this plan,” Todd Hendricks, a local surveyor, said. “The beginning of the Town being at a stone marked ‘Warren 1795’ at Fourth and Water Streets as shown on the map.”

This is one of the survey monuments that remain visible throughout the City of Warren. This one is located at the intersection of Cedar St. and Pennsylvania Ave. The contractor who undertook this sidewalk job years ago must have known what the stone was and took steps to leave it undisturbed.

Whether any of the historical markers in the city date back that far isn’t clear but there’s certainly evidence to suggest that some of the markers present in the city date to the 1880s or 1890s.

Joe McGraw, a local surveyor and president of the Northwest Chapter of the PA Society of Land Surveyors, said original subdivision maps at the Warren County Courthouse “show these stone monuments were in existence in the 1890s and quite possibly earlier.”

McGraw explained that D.F.A. Wheelock was a surveyor and borough engineer in the late 1800s and early 1900s “and completed much of the original survey layout work within the City of Warren.”

He said it’s unclear if Wheelock placed the monuments that remain today “or if he found many of these while subdividing street blocks….”

And beyond being historical relics – 120 to 130 years old and potentially longer – the most remarkable fact might be just how accurately they were placed.

“They are surprisingly accurate for being set in the early 1900s and possibly late 1800s,” Todd Hendricks, a local surveyor said. “They are extremely accurate even with today’s methods when you can get within 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch.

“They are more likely right on the money.”